Daily Management Review

SpaceX Rival OneWeb Launches 34 Satellites In Space Internet Race With Starlink Mega Constellation


In what is being seen as the beginning of the war over high speed internet across the globe between the space internet companies OneWeb and SpaceX, the former successfully launched and put into orbit more than 30 satellites designed exclusively for facilitating internet connections. 
34 satellites from the United States based company were blasted off into space and later into orbit abroad a Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday. The satellites were put into a polar orbit at an altitude of 450 kilometers nearly four hours after the launch by Arianespace. They were then raised to their operational altitude of 1,200 kilometers using the onboard propulsion on each of the satellites.
A total of 648 satellites is planned to be launched into its constellation ultimately by and 588 of the satellites are expected to become operational along with 60 spares. There is potential of putting up almost 2,000 satellites in total in the future. Compared to the plans of SpaceX to put 42,000 satellites in its Starlink mega constellation, the program for OneWeb is smaller but it aims to provide similar services.
“Each satellite forms an integral part of the high-speed global satellite broadband network and together will activate OneWeb’s first customer demos by the end of 2020 to provide full commercial global services for sectors such as maritime, aviation, government and enterprise in 2021,” the company said in a statement.
Almost a year ago in February 2019, six satellites had been launched by OneWeb into space. With the latest launch, the company hopes to increase the number of its satellites in space rap[idly. Each of the satellites weighs about 150 kilograms. The company has plans to make 20 launches by the end of 2021 with each launch carrying between 30 to 36 satellites into space.
The aim of the company in sending up so many satellites into space is to be able to deliver high-speed internet to any place on Earth. Such internet will be accessible to paying customers via an as-yet undisclosed ground terminal. The company however does not aim to deliver the same speed as is planned by SpaceX. The company plans to start off its service first in the Arctic later this year and then make a global launch by the end of 2021.
owever However there has been criticism of OneWeb over the large number of satellites that it is launching in space – as had to be faced by SpaceX. According to the plans of OneWeb, the total number satellites that it plans to launch is in itself about half of the 1,500 active satellites that orbit Earth today. SpaceX plans to add a much larger number of satellites into space.
The two companies have also been at loggerheads. Some negative comments about OneWeb was made publicly by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell in October last year, in which she had suggested that there was “far more capacity” in the satellites of SpaceX compared to the UK based company as well as that of other competitors.